Results in grade-level proficiency scores for Challis students covering the last five school years range from a low of 4 percent on the math section for one cohort to highs of 50 percent in reading and 57 percent in science for two other age groups of students, Superintendent Lani Rembelski told school board members earlier this month.
The percentages show how many students in a cohort have shown growth in academic knowledge, Rembelski said.
“We want all students to grow. Unfortunately, that doesn’t happen every day of every test,” she said.
The wide range of proficiency scores comes from testing data compiled from the annual Idaho Standards Achievement Test, which is mandated annually for students in grades 3-8.
One ISAT test is mandated for high school students. Challis voluntarily does more testing to get a better handle on student progress and problems, she said. The required test is given to students on one day in the spring, Rembelski said, but Challis adds a winter test, too. Subjects mandated for most grade levels are math and English language arts, and for fifth- and seventh- graders, science is required. Challis administers the science test optionally for high school students.
The state requires kindergarten through third-grade students to take the Istation test. Next year Challis will have all kindergarten through sixth-grade students take that interactive computer test. Administrators like to supplement state data with local data from optional benchmark tests they administer five times a year. Challis administrators will add the Istation as its optional benchmark test for grades 7-12, replacing a previous company’s test that administrators deemed wasn’t as useful.
Rembelski cautioned that these tests, given once a year, are just one of several measures of academic progress and people shouldn’t assign too much weight to the results of any single test. That’s why the district measures student progress multiple times throughout the year. The tests serve as tools to help teachers and administrators find and plug “holes” in student learning, Rembelski said. Students take the benchmark tests soon after the first day of school and at the end of each nine-week quarter. Only after the test data is considered, along with other measurements such as grade point averages, can administrators begin to hold teachers accountable for student proficiency or the lack thereof, Rembelski said.
There are three levels of intervention to make sure students get the help they need, Rembelski said. In tier 1, students get regular classroom instruction. Some don’t get it the fist time, so in tier 2 smaller groups of students slightly below grade level are taken aside to get them up to speed. In tier 3, students further below grade level get more time on task.
Stanley school students turned in some “impressive” scores, school board Chairman Brett Plummer said, and Challis fifth-grade students also had some “phenomenal” scores.